WITH the local elections over and the new administration in place in my city of Glasgow, it was a genuine pleasure to see Councillor Jacqueline McLaren elected as Lord Provost and I know she will be a true champion for the city and its people.

Seeing so many hard working councillors I know taking on positions of responsibility in Glasgow in particular but right across Scotland fills me with confidence for our post-pandemic recovery and where we are headed as a country.

It’s exciting to see the SNP take control in many councils for the first time and we only have to look at the way in which Glasgow SNP settled Labour’s decade long pay discrimination dispute once they took control of the council to know how much of a difference the SNP can make.

What’s even more interesting to watch is Anas “we will not go into coalition with any other party” Sarwar’s Labour councillors jumping into bed with the Tories within days, not even attempting to hide the rank hypocrisy.

On a more positive note, I am especially glad that the working arrangement between the SNP and the Greens has prevented some of the most unsavoury characters in Glasgow Labour getting their hands on any sort of power.

What was a fairly successful election for them was almost immediately overshadowed by in-fighting and factionalism, shocking I know.

The architects of the aforementioned pay discrimination system, back in charge of the Labour group is such a monumental act of self-harm that all right-thinking members of that party must be questioning what exactly they have just campaigned for. The City of Glasgow will be paying their bill for generations.

More than £30 million a year for the next 30 years which, let’s not forget, means the council has £30m less per year to spend on other things. And they have the cheek to call themselves a fresh start.

The positive outlook I see for our city is at total odds with what we’d have had, had Labour actually won. And it’s even more at odds with the endless horror show that is Westminster. The Queen’s Speech was the perfect opportunity for the UK government to address the cost of living crisis that is literally going to kill people but instead it recycled authoritarian bills which were already voted down only weeks ago.

Instead of tackling the issues that matter, the Government is attacking people’s rights. And we know the old saying about divide and conquer: who does the Government want you, the public, to blame for all of this? As usual, it is those who are already the least powerful and often completely voiceless.

They thought it was perfectly acceptable to mention, alongside reference to those poor, desperate refugees who are forced to cross the channel in the most perilous of conditions, what they say are plans to help the police to make the streets safer—in the same paragraph of the Queen’s Speech. That is a consciously cynical ploy to conflate the two in people’s minds. It is a deliberate attack on asylum seekers and refugees.

It is clear that these relentless attacks on all of our rights will continue as the UK Government seeks to shield itself from scrutiny and any sort of oversight. Some of what was in this term’s legislative plan would make the most authoritarian regimes blush, but not this Tory party.

Scotland wants to do things differently. We want to offer that helping hand; we want to act with care and compassion; and we want to welcome people in need, not throw up the shutters and turn them away. The Scottish Government does all of those things, but they do so with one hand tied behind their back.

And they do it at a not insignificant cost which the opposition parties then use as a stick to beat them with. Think about it. If the Scottish Government has to spend around £600m per year mitigating UK Tory policies, they then have £600m less per year for the altogether more positive things they’d like to do.

Not unlike the situation in Glasgow I mentioned earlier where the council have to spend £30 million every year paying back the debt they accrued ensuring those victims of Labour’s pay discrimination (primarily women) were properly compensated. That won’t stop Glasgow Labour councillors from listing all the things Glasgow isn’t spending money on (because of them).

Just like Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross will make demands that the Scottish Government gives money to X, Y and Z knowing full well that they’re £600m down because of the system that they insist we be part of – ie, the so-called Union.

Next year we will have our independence referendum and this time we really have to do it. But when the people of Scotland recognise that the only way to stop tinkering around the edges of dreadful Tory policies, to stop having to spend millions of pounds on mitigating the effect of those policies, and to have full control over the kind of country we are is to vote Yes to independence, I predict that is exactly what they will do. That is the conclusion that they will come to.

How Labour will justify standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories as they tell us we’re too wee, too poor and too stupid to run our own country, I do not know.